Alva Skog and other new art talent on branding their London neighbourhood for Coal Drops Yard

Coal Drops Yard opens today hot off some unique visual branding from the area's most budding new talent.

King's Cross in London - picture the district, and what do you see? Queues of Harry Potter fans, Eurostar trains, and the renovation of an area once known for saucier and more sordid sights.

But what about Central Saints Martin, the artistic hotbed that's given us talent like Alva Skog? Or a clutch of cool eateries and bars like Spiritland and Itadaki Zen? It's in that sense of art and artisan that we today see the launch of Coal Drops Yard, a hot new consumer district for King's Cross that's come with some eye-catching branding from the likes of Alva, Jack Sachs and rising CSM talent.

Some of the young talent asked to contribute their final projects towards the visual identity for Coal Drops Yard (CDY) include Anastasia Chebotareva, who told Digital Arts about the honour of being able to define the identity of a brand new part of the neighbourhood.

"Being a Central Saint Martin’s graduate, it is a pleasure to be a part of a collective engaging with contemporary public," she tells us. "I feel that unintentionally my final project (below) was almost a compete puzzle of observations and experiences I’ve made throughout living in London.

"As an artist, to be surrounded by such rich mix of cultures has really fed my creativity and the way of engaging with my surroundings. It was exciting to be able to have the opportunity to feed back that energy into the community."

Joining her is Harim Harz Park, who explains her visual below is about the preservation of identity.

"I interpreted this subject by referencing the indigenous tribal culture that is dying out and the act of the tribes using tribal costumes and masks to expose and preserve their culture to the wider world via visual impact," she explains.

"I created a series of costumes which enables individuals to completely hide their identity in order to become and play the role of another complete different made up identity. My work was created in order to show how any individual can lie beneath the costumes to become part of a culture."

Speaking of the CDY opportunity, Harim says it was something she was very grateful as "I feel I am one of the representatives of the neighbourhood in showing how creative it is."

Both artists' opinions chime with Alva Skog's, who says her piece below represents "how King’s Cross, together with Central Saint Martins, empowers art students.”

Responsible for the branding project was Droga5, whose head of art Chris Chapman spoke to us about wanting to commission "truly striking" visual work to complement the Yard.

"To achieve this, we reached out to many illustrators and photographers that we admire. Our only prerequisite was that they knew King’s Cross, and we loved their work. In the end, we commissioned and purchased work from 26 people - including photographers Martin Parr, Rosie Matheson and Catherine Losing and illustrators like Kyle Platts, ManvsMachine and Sophy Hollington."

"Our aim was to contribute towards Coal Drops Yard being a place where people could consume and be consumed by all manner of experiences," Chris continues. "This is reflected in the visual identity. For example, the natural spaces nearby the site are represented by the image of the snails. There are references to the history of the space, with some nods to dance culture."

But how important is it to carve a visual identity for new spaces like this, and why? Chris has some thoughts on this.

"A visual identity for a new retail space is key to making people pay attention, given how many retail destinations London now offers," he explains. "It is also an important way of uniting the many different retailer brands by creating something new and 'ownable' that they can all be a part of.

"It was important for us to make the area feel inclusive and representative, which is why we chose to support local artists and feature imagery of local people as well as supporting students from CSM."

Read next: The Best New Illustration and Graphic Design Talent from the Central Saint Martins 2018 grad show

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